Shari Springer Berman

Documentary gal.

American Splendor (2003) -- Directed with Robert Pulcini. The third in the trilogy (not really, but it seems like it) beginning with Terry Zwigoff's Crumb and Ghost World--movies based around comic book stuff about outcasts who like old records and think "normal" people are stupid. Where Crumb (the actual nonfiction documentary) is brilliant and Ghost World is pretty great but flawed by its own worldview, American Splendor is in the end a sort of slightly-different normal movie. You pretty much can extrapolate the rest of the movie in the first 3 seconds, when you see a group of ten-year-olds dressed as superheroes for Halloween and Harvey dressed as himself and not understanding what the big deal is--a sort of dull joke that's played out over and over through the movie. The most interesting bits of the movie aren't really the story or philosophy at all, but the jazzing around--like switching seamlessly between the real Harvey Pekar and his actor counterpart Paul Giamatti (a great actor who finally gets to play more than a supporting role, and he does a great job here) or showing actual Letterman footage while the actor wife watches on TV. Some of that gets predictable too, but it makes things a bit more interesting. Fans of Crumb (the person or the movie) will enjoy watching James Urbaniak mimicking his weird little mannerisms (catching most of them pretty nicely). Worth seeing, though not as good as everyone might have you believe. B

Copyright (c) Feb 2004 - Dec 2005 by Rusty Likes Movies